Our programme of Ingenuity events and workshops advances apace, as we continue to seek out new knowledge and expertise within the University of Nottingham that can benefit the local business community. On Thursday 26th November, our latest expert, Edwin Moriarty from the University of Nottingham’s department of External Relations, provided us with a fantastic introduction to Smarter Marketing.
Breaking down barriers
We started the day with a practical exercise that involved standing in a circle jeering at one another, in a bid to break down our natural human instinct for conformity. As Edwin explained, the desire for conformity pressurises people into being stupid. Breaking down barriers that lead to silly communication mistakes was very much the order of the day. It turns out it’s surprisingly difficult to be mean to complete strangers, but this was a day that was all about pushing us out of our comfort zones.
The day was jam packed full of interactive exercises and one of the first was an exercise in idea generation using two different approaches. Group A were presented with a problem and given free rein to solve it as they pleased. Group B were presented with the same problem, but instructed that they must initially talk about the problem itself in great depth, without proposing any solutions – the proposing of solutions was reserved for the very last few minutes of the exercise. Interestingly, Group B arrived at more solutions than Group A – a valuable exercise in idea creation and problem solving where the luxury of a little time for discussion exists.
A nice cup of tea…or is it?
Another practical exercise in how to communicate effectively followed in the form of a tea-making exercise. Edwin tasked all of the participants to write down instructions for making a cup of tea. Interpreting these instructions literally, Edwin then proceeded to make a very unsuccessful, indeed undrinkable, brew. Communication is harder than we think sometimes.
What followed was an exercise in teaching one another to make a paper aeroplane without talking. It’s rather difficult, as it turns out. And it’s even more difficult to explain the purpose of a paper aeroplane without using the words ‘paper’, ‘plane’ or ‘fly’ or derivatives thereof. When you boil it down, communication really is very tricky indeed, isn’t it?
What Edwin revealed to us so cleverly throughout the day was how much of our communication, and hence our marketing, is just based on what “feels” right. By stripping away our assumptions, we can start to drill down into the science behind why people think the way they do – and what influences their decision making. As business leaders, this puts us in a powerful position to influence customer perceptions and ensure our marketing achieves the results we want. We left with a better understanding of how to make the smart choices when it comes to communication, or as one participant remarked:
“This workshop made SO much sense! It was an extremely enjoyable and informative day, with very relevant and insightful information.”